Homeschool Planning for a New Year

It’s that time of year where I evaluate what we did well last year and where we need to improve. It’s time to start some planning for the new school year. When I look at a whole school year before me, it looks a little daunting. I will be homeschooling 10th grade, 8th grade, 6th grade, and 3rd grade this year. I have to do some planning and break it down into manageable steps. Some subjects are pretty easy to break down into weekly and daily assignments. Math is one of those subjects. I divide the total number of lessons and tests by the number of school days in our year (180). Then I know how many lessons need to be done per week and per day.

For my high schooler, science and history break down easily, too. I use the same system of dividing the number of lessons by the number of days in our school year. Language arts for a high schooler is a little different. I have to look at the number of papers I want him to write, and the number of books I want him to read and break that down into monthly and weekly goals. I will meet with him about the expectations I have for the year. We will have a joint check-off sheet to go by, but it is his responsibility to see that he stays on track. I will check in daily with him on his workload.

For the younger boys, I use a unit study approach to science and history. Their reading and writing assignments are based on the topic we are studying, so language arts gets planned in with the unit studies based on age and ability. In the fall, we are doing a big unit study on the States and Regions of the United States. In the spring, we are doing a big unit study on the systems of the body. This balances out our science and history over the course of a year. For these three, I will stay on the same topic, but they will have books assigned based on reading ability, and their writing assignments will also be based on their abilities.

I have been writing up weekly plan sheets for the unit studies, so I know what books and supplies to be gathering. I hand-write these plans because it cements these plans in my head. I hope to share pictures along the way this year as we learn together. For now, here is a picture of the first four weeks of lesson plans.

I am using the KONOS curriculum ( for my guide on planning. I did this same unit study about 10 years ago, so that is helping me plan our activities. I am looking forward to this school year!

Enjoy the journey!


A Review of Diana Waring’s Experience History Through Music Series

 Recently I was given the opportunity to review Diana Waring’s re-published series, “Experience History Through Music.” Since this is the beginning of our 15th year of homeschooling, I have long-known Diana Waring. I have used her history and music cassettes in the past, and I was thrilled to learn she had located the original recordings and had them re-mastered and converted to a file that is compatible with audio CD’s. Diana has also written books for homeschool families that have greatly influenced how my homeschool is structured.
 The newly published and updated books provide short lessons on the background of the folk songs from times past, and Diana has also included the sheet music and words for the songs. Not only can you listen to the music CD’s, you can also participate and sing along with her and the other musicians on the recording. I have found that my children retain information when we are able to bring in hands-on learning and music to our learning time. Our brains store and retrieve details much faster when we incorporate music than if we just memorize facts and information.
I can’t pick a favorite music CD from this series, so I will give you a little bit of information about each one. If you are studying early American history, I highly recommend this series to enrich your learning. If you are not studying American history this year, this is still a great supplement to your day. 
 “Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder”
One of our favorite time periods to study has been the pioneer days. Of course, when we study the pioneers, we study Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you are familiar with her writings, you know that music was a big part of her family life. Her Pa played the fiddle, and it had a big impact on her life and her books. When I have read her books, I always had to imagine the songs in my head. With Diana’s book and CD, I am able to read about the story behind the songs, listen to the songs, and also have the sheet music to follow along with the songs. My children get so much more from our reading time when I can also play a song that is a part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder heritage. 
This book is written by William Anderson. He has a long and rich history of writing about Laura Ingalls Wilder. You will learn many details from him throughout the book. The pictures in the book also help you imagine life when these songs were sang by Laura and her family.
Here is a brief excerpt from the book:
“The songs Pa played and the words sung by Laura and her family spoke of love and loss, praise to God, good times in the past and better times in the future.” (Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, p. 7)
 “America: The Heart of a New Generation”
This CD and book contains sixteen musical selections from the very beginning of our country. It starts out with a stirring rendition of “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” 
Music is such a rich part of our American history. Immersing your family in the study of America with these rich songs will give you life-long memories. These are songs you want your children to share with your grandchildren and their children.

“Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West”
Imagine yourself and your family loading all of your personal belongings that you could fit in a covered wagon and heading West to the great unknown territory. You would spend months with families on the same journey. Babies would be born while you were on the trail. People would die on the trail. Couples would get married along the trail. The wagon train worked as a small community to work together to make it through very rugged terrain. One way to express your thoughts, feelings, and emotions on a trip like this would be through music. Many songs were sung as you traveled along and when you stopped for a respite. The songs reflect life along the trail.
Diana Waring brings these songs to you with stories and pictures. She helps you feel the emotions of these travelers through song. With her CD and music sheets, you can capture a bit of the excitement of the travelers who leave life as they know it behind for the great unknown in the West.
For the next two days, you can get all three of Diana’s “Experience History Through Music” books and CD’s for $50. The offer ends on July 31, 2014. The regular price is $18.99 per set. This is a savings of $6.97. You can see details on how to purchase this set at

About Diana
Author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealedworld history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style. You can learn more about Diana and all of her resources at
We live in a fast-paced, instant society. It is nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy listening to music that is a rich part of our country’s heritage. 
Be Blessed on Your Learning Adventure!

Pardon the dust while I do some maintenance around here

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. I will be blogging regularly again in the very near future. You will notice the design of the blog will be changing in the coming weeks, too. All of this is to make your reading experience here much better.

This is a view from the top of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. I love my state! 

There have been lots of happenings in my life in the past year. I finished our 14th year of homeschooling with my four sons. I ran many races in the past year. Everything from a 5K to a half-marathon to a triathlon and obstacle races. It has been a fun and active year. The most fun I had in a race was jumping fire. I will post a few pics for you to see my journey.

Ready for the Elf Run
Midnight New Year’ Eve Run
 Snow Day Run
 Stretching with my 7-yr-old


Hope you enjoy the pics. It has been an awesome year! On to new goals and new dreams.

Saturday fun with the family

Enjoyed a great day with my family picnicing, fishing, walking, and eating. Gotta love the smells when you cook breakfast over an open fire.

My greatest joys in life are my husband, children, and my mom. Had a wonderful time away from the house, the computer, and cell phones.


Friday Encouragement for Families

It’s the start of the week-end, and it is July. What do you have planned as a family? How about a picnic or hiking a trail? Too hot to do much? Why not have water balloon and water gun wars in your yard?

There are lots of low-cost ways to spend time as a family. Pick something and do it!

Just look at the pure joy on the face of my youngest as he blasts me with his water gun!

Have a great week-end!